So, I guess I should preface this review by saying that I never decline an opportunity to champion one of the great filmmakers of our time. Regardless of where you stand on M. Night Shyamalan, his releases tend to be events amongst critics and film buffs alike. This is exactly why I need to get my (detailed) first impressions out before it could fall through the cracks. My biggest takeaway from Old is how distinctive Shyamalan is, he’s practically in opposition to customary norms in cinema today. M. Night inherently treats his mise-en-scene like an equalizer, toying with unforeseen boundaries that other filmmakers wouldn’t dare touch. For example, his offscreen stilted dialogue with a split diopter garners intrigue to say the least, but also (purposely) feels inhuman. His camerawork in this is sporadic yet inventive, to say the least, and it is some of his best work in a long time.
Old is also without a doubt his funniest film to date. I think it accomplishes what The Happening couldn’t: it’s a proper ode to the B movie and is unnerving and (intentionally) comedic in ways the aforementioned couldn’t be. I still find The Happening to be an enigma, the actors are mostly terrible in ways that rarely feel intentional, and nothing about it is truly creepy. However, with Old the actors are a bit more esteemed, and the frightening imagery is just fantastic (there’s some extremely impressive body horror). Most filmmakers wouldn’t dare take risks like Shyamalan does, and I’m extremely glad he’s still making films—his way—and I hope he never stops. Cinema needs him. Most would say he peaked early in his career, but I think he’s still in his prime right now.